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Jul/Aug 2012 Issue

Teen girl drivers’ cell use exceeds boys’

Teen girls are twice as likely as teen boys to use cell phones and other electronic devices while driving, according to an in-car video study released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

Electronic devices were the most commonly observed distracted driving activity for new teen drivers of both genders, the study found, yet video captured many other distractions as well. The study, “Distracted Driving Among Newly Licensed Teen Drivers,” is the first to use in-car video to focus on teen distracted driving.

In the study, researchers at the UNC Highway Safety Research Center identified the prevalence of distracted driver behaviors and conditions among teens during high g-force maneuvers such as swerving, hard braking, or rapid acceleration.

The leading cause of distraction for all teens was the use of electronic devices, which was seen in 7 percent of the video clips. Teens engaged in some other form of potentially distracted behavior in 15 percent of the clips, including adjusting controls, grooming, eating, and drinking.

The study also found that females were nearly twice as likely as males to use an electronic device while driving, and overall were nearly 10 percent more likely to engage in other distracted behaviors. On the other hand, males were roughly twice as likely to turn around in their seats while driving.

Avoid heatstroke: Look before you lock

With heatstroke the leading cause of non-crash, vehicle-related deaths for children under 14, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) launched its first-ever national campaign to prevent child heatstroke deaths in cars this year.

Through the campaign, NHTSA is urging parents and caregivers to think, “Where’s baby? Look before you lock” to prevent heatstroke, medically termed hyperthermia. Studies show that 33 children died due to hyperthermia last year, and another 49 died in 2010.

To prevent heatstroke, parents should:

  • Teach children a vehicle is not a play area and store keys out of a child’s reach
  • Never leave a child unattended in a vehicle, even if the windows are partially open or the air conditioning is on
  • Make a habit of looking in the vehicle–front and back–before locking the door and walking away

 



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